Saturday, July 14, 2012

Simple Living Institute

The Simple Living Institute was holding it's monthly meeting in the Camelia Room at Leu Gardens. It had been raining all day and thus it seemed appropriate that the talk was about rain barrels. Tia Meer had been gardening all day in the rain which is actually a blessing since you're guaranteed to stay cool when it rains. She entered the room, muddy and wet and introduced the speakers. Her husband, Terry Meer, began the talk explaining that 70% of the earth's surface is covered with water. Only 2.5% of that is fresh water and only 3/10 of 1% of that is drinkable water. He demonstrated how to build and plumb a rain barrel. In Florida or anywhere for that matter, huge amounts of rain water are wasted and lost to sewers and drainage ditches.

Tommy Branch demonstrated how he paints the blue barrels so they look like old fashioned wood barrels. He used a large house brush painting the whole barrel a light brown. Then he dries out the brush and adds dry brush streaks that look like wood grain. The vertical board separation lines he added last with a ruler and a sharpie. He said, "I'm no artist, so if I can do it anyone can." Large rain barrels were on sale for $80 and half barrel planters were available for $40. Members all brought in plants which were for sale or trade on tables along the side of the room. There were at least 50 people in attendance despite the rain.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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